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Travelers' Aid

International Communication
August 4, 2000

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I have a confession to make. When it comes to getting around the globe, I won't mince words. I'm a pro. But as for actually being in a foreign country, meeting people and getting to know the locals? Well, that's always been a bit of a problem. See, I'm what you'd call linguistically impaired, as anyone who's heard my French can tell you. So when I go abroad or even to parts of New York, Texas or Los Angeles, it's safe to say, I do not speak their language.

For this week's Travelers' Aid, I want to look at what you can do when you don't know the native tongue. I called Conner Gorry. She writes about Central and South America for the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and even though she speaks Spanish, she often finds herself in places where she can't communicate, places where Portuguese, or Indian languages predominate. I asked Connor how she gets around when she's linguistically impaired.

And while we're on the topic of language, a large part of communicating is done non-verbally through body language. According to one study, up to 80 percent of what you say about yourself is done entirely without words! Dean Foster is an expert in these hidden forms of communication and what and what not to do when you go to different cultures. He's written two books, the Global Etiquette Guides to Europe and Asia. Dean tells me there are some pretty basic things Americans do, that don't always go over too well.

Listen to what these communication experts have to say.

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